Kerman is a city in southeastern Iran with 677,650 inhabitants (2006), situated on a sandy plain 1749 metres above sea level. It is the capital of Kerman province with 2,652,413 inhabitants (2006) and an area of 181,714 km². Kerman is the largest carpet producing and exporting center in Iran as well as a large producer of pistachios on the world market. The province is rich in minerals, like copper, coal, chromium, lead, zinc, uranium and aluminum, but mining has remained on a small scale. In recent times crude oil has been discovered, but is yet not exploited.
Kerman is one of Iran’s oldest cities and has always been an important centre on the trans-Asian trade routes. Believed to have been founded in the early-3rd-century AD by Ardashir I, founder of the Sassanian dynasty, its history is a tale of prosperity and plunder, but not that much in the way of peace. From the 7th century Kerman was ruled in turn by the Arabs, Buyids, Seljuks, Turkmens and Mongols, and then until the Qajar dynasty by a further succession of invaders and regional despots. Kerman only gained security under the central government in Tehran during the 19th century.
Kerman’s continuity was its commerce, the evidence of which can still be seen in the many caravanserais around the bazaar. As trade moved more to the sea in the 16th century, so Kerman relied more on the production of carpets, a trade that remains